The Salvation Army of Livingston County is again working to bring hope to those in need not only this Christmas season but year round and the familiar sound of bells ringing out will soon be heard.

The annual Red Kettle campaign goal has been set at $385,000, the same as last year. Major Prezza Morrison says national agreements prevented them from ringing bells until after Thanksgiving so for those wondering where the familiar red kettles have been, that’s why they haven’t been out yet. She says they’ll be losing eleven days from last year, a time they usually raise between $35,000 and $40,000. Morrison still believes the community will come alongside the Salvation Army to help reach the goal because the need is still there – noting they didn’t feel it was fair to set a higher goal when they’re ringing less time. Morrison says the situation might seem overwhelming but this is a very giving community that recognizes the many needs but also that the Salvation Army is good stewards of the funds and that they will be used to serve people in the community.

Morrison tells WHMI they appreciate all of the support and she is still shocked many times by the generosity of the community. Last year for Christmas, the local Corps was able to help 532 households or around 1,302 children with 5,751 gifts. Some of the funds raised during the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign help during Christmas but it’s really more about being able to serve people in the community in need year round. Morrison says unfortunately, that need is not going away but only increasing. Funds collected during the Christmas season help the local Corps to provide help with utility bills, housing, emergency shelter or rent, food and clothing. Morrison says a Pathways of Hope program involves intense casework to break generational poverty while a separate eviction and diversion program allows them to work with landlords and renters to help keep families in their homes.

Morrison says they have been working on creative ideas to help raise the funds and there are a number of ways community members can participate or donate during the Christmas season. Details can be found through the provided link. Volunteers are sought for various opportunities, along with bell ringers who can sign up for locations through Christmas Eve. Morrison says it is better to sign up sooner than later at as sites tend to fill up. In addition to traditional bell ringing, there is also virtual bell ringing, which offers incentives for raising different amounts. Bell ringing runs through Christmas but the local Corps will continue to collecting donations through January, which Morrison says offers an opportunity for end of year tax breaks. Businesses can also sponsor a Red Kettle. Individuals can donate online, in person at 503 Lake Street in Howell or by mail to P.O. Box 647 Howell, MI 48843. Those seeking volunteer opportunities should contact Volunteer Director Darlene Howard at 517-546-4750.

Morrison will deliver updates on how they’re faring with the campaign goal but also different programs taking place during the Christmas season as part of “Mondays with Major” video segments on the Salvation Army of Livingston County Facebook page. (JM)